In Tuesday's dominating, series-clinching, 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres, the Flyers played one of their best all-around games in months.

They were strong in all facets and played a hard 60 minutes, never allowing the Sabres to get a sniff of momentum.

The Flyers hope to build off that impressive performance when they open the Eastern Conference semifinals this weekend against Boston.

In this year's regular season, the Bruins took three of four games from the Flyers, with goalie Tim Thomas compiling a 3-0-1 record with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage.

"They have good forwards up front, depth up front," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "Mostly when I look at the Bruins, I see balance on that back end and up front. They can play a game with skill; they can play physical."

On Wednesday, the Flyers had a complete day off, one day after they ousted the Sabres in a draining, seven-game series.

Getting away from hockey for a day "is a good thing," Laviolette said. "With the extra days we are allowed here, we can utilize this to our advantage to come in fresh [Thursday]. We will know where we are going and which direction we are going. We can start working on some things relative to our opponent."

The Flyers' escape in Game 6 - they overcame a pair of two-goal deficits and outlasted the Sabres in overtime, 5-4 - lifted the proverbial boulder from their shoulders and gave them some swagger.

Will they carry it into the next round, much like they did last year when they beat the New York Rangers in a shootout to sneak into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season? Are the Flyers about to revert to their early-season form, back when winning the Stanley Cup didn't seem so far-fetched?

Well, goaltending is a big part of the equation, and Brian Boucher is playing as well as he has all season.

For the second straight year, Boucher outplayed a much more heralded goalie in the opening round. Last year, he overshadowed New Jersey legend Martin Brodeur. This time, it was U.S. Olympic hero Ryan Miller.

In the conference quarterfinals, Boucher was 4-1 with a 2.10 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. Miller was 3-4 with a 2.93 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.

Boucher and Miller had kind words for each other during the ceremonial handshake line after Game 7 on Tuesday.

"I said, 'Great series,' and if it wasn't for him I don't know if it would have been a series," said Boucher, mindful that Miller had a pair of 1-0 wins. "He was fantastic. He just said, 'Good job.' "

It was Boucher's second Game 7 appearance; the other was 11 years ago, when he was a rookie and lost to New Jersey, 2-1.

"When you are younger . . . you let your emotions get the best of you sometimes, but I have had to deal with adversity a lot during my career, and somehow I keep sticking around," said Boucher, 34. "At the end of the day, you say to yourself: 'Is it that big of a deal, all that stress?' In the end, you are still playing. I try to say that these things will work themselves out and just keep working hard, believe in yourself, and keep plugging away, and it worked out this series."

With defenseman Chris Pronger rounding into form, it should reduce the number of good scoring chances against Boucher in Round 2. Pronger, in his second game since returning from a broken right hand, led the Flyers with five blocked shots Tuesday.

Boucher, who was 1-2 with a 2.95 GAA against Boston this season, said the older you get, "you don't know how many more cracks you are going to have at it, and you want to make the most of the opportunities."

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